COMPASS: The Mad Dash to August

July 26th, 2022

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

I’m back in the host seat after my husband and I welcomed our baby boy in early June. Thank you all for your well wishes. The three of us are getting on marvelously (and with a lot of coffee!).

Congress is back and with a major to-do list. Longtime Hill-watchers know that nothing comes between Congress and the August recess (particularly in an election year), but a full docket and attendance issues in the Senate due to COVID infections could keep members here a few more weeks. Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The Senate is in the middle of considering legislation to provide $280 billion for subsidies for the semiconductor industry and money to the National Science Foundation for tech hubs and programs – all designed to create a sturdy domestic manufacturing capacity in the face of growing Chinese antagonism. The Senate voted 64 to 32 this morning to advance the bill, which will get a final passage vote later this week. It will then head to the House.

The Heritage Foundation says the bill is a handout to big business that will fuel inflation. Questions also remain as to whether or not companies receiving the funds can still use them to invest in China. Former Trump trade rep Robert Lighthizer has called the bill “flawed and compromised” but “absolutely essential” to address “existential competition with China.”

Also on the Senate’s agenda: a bill to expand VA benefits to veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service, admit Finland and Sweden to NATO, codify same sex marriage, and use the Senate’s reconciliation procedure to revamp how Medicare negotiates drug prices and extend Obamacare premium subsidies. Senate Democrats also want to pass legislation to change the Electoral Count Act, legalize marijuana, address insulin prices, and pass antitrust legislation aimed at Big Tech.

Predictably, the Senate has a huge list and roughly two weeks to complete it, but this hasn’t prompted them to modify their two-and-a-half day work week. They’re still taking this Friday off. Of course!

The House is set to be in session one more week before jetting out of town for five weeks (though they may be called back to DC to deal with Senate-passed legislation). Before they leave, they have very important political virtue signaling to do, including a package of bills on gun control – a bill to target gun manufacturer’s liability and a so-called assault weapons ban, among others –  and police funding. Also on tap are spending bills, telehealth legislation, and wildfire and drought legislation. They’re also taking up a “Tiger King” bill to ban private ownership of lions and tigers. Apparently this is a pressing issue.

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One More Thing…

ICYMI, I wrote in the New York Post about how Google is getting political with user data post Roe v Wade. I also joined Inez Stepman’s High Noon podcast for a wide ranging discussion on Big Tech and the threat of public-private tyranny.